Diaspora: A New Meaning for Social Networks or Just Another Ship in the Big Blue?

Will Diaspora cause users to jump ship or is it just one more in the big blue?

Just a couple of days ago I talked about the future of social networks and the new meaning of communications that will come to exist as they evolve. Now I have hit upon the best contender yet, Diaspora.

The guys that have developed Diaspora have insisted that they’re not aiming to displace Facebook with their new social network.  Instead they’re focusing on completely revolutionizing the meaning and engineering of the way online socializing works. They hope to achieve this by building a ‘network of networks’ that will come to define not only the way we communicate online but the way we control our content and how we share it. In other words, Diaspora is hoping to promote social networking bridges that will connect all other services, providing unrestricted sharing and communicating. So even if you’re not part of LinkedIn or Facebook you would still be able to communicate with your friends as though you were a part of those networks. Developers are calling this ‘the federated social Web’, where the user is given a choice of network provider and still has the ability to connect with users on other networks.

So there is no need to mention much more. Diaspora has received an amazing amount of press and funding. What we need to ask is more critical questions.

1. What exactly is this again? 

The average social networking user is content with the service they currently receive. Really! I mean for all the hype about users dumping Facebook and people becoming angry about privacy issues, the truth is Facebook won’t be destroyed by an angry mob. It’s like believing a small group of anarchists, rioting in some market corner, will bring down an entire national government. Not happening.

Yet, for everything I’ve read about Diaspora I’m still left with many questions. The group has done a great job marketing their product, that’s obvious, but what is the actual content? Yes, they’ve got videos and tons of graphics and other info but nothing that truly reveals much more of the actual product. We need to see it in action! Saying something is revolutionary is not enough to convince avid social networking users who have become accustomed to other services for nearly a decade now. Let’s hope the release will finish what all the hype started.

2. Who’s going to jump ship?

You’ve got one person on a cruise ship shouting orders to jump ship. Who is actually going to listen? Diaspora supporters claim that other services will find themselves compelled to connect with each other. People will begin flocking to this new service where sharing and ownership rules will be re-written; a new standard will be developed and everyone else will have no choice but to follow. Before anything like this happens users will need to find Diaspora useful, and that means ease of use and practicality. What it aims at difference may cause its own undoing by going beyond its current capabilities. While you’ll have tech savvy geeks relishing their new found power, the everyday user might not find Diaspora so amusing. No one is going to abandon a perfectly good ship without good cause, even if you’ve got a shiny brand new one parked right beside it.

3. Where will this new ship take me?

You’re one of the few adventurous souls that decides to take the plunge. Feeling a bit cold now, are we? You’ve left your old social network where you had more than 1,000 ‘friends’. However, this new ship promises you authentic relationships, unmatched safety, and future opportunities to socialize with everyone, no matter who they’re sailing with. You get excited for a while but then suddenly you realize your one of the few who jumped. Days, weeks, months pass and your new ship is still feeling pretty lonely and useless. Not much communication going on. What was all that hype about?

I believe the Diaspora project has a good heart and is really trying to create something very useful for all of us. I’m just not sure where exactly this will go and I think we need to test its potential in a more critical way. When I talk about Diaspora and show people what it will do most don’t see anything too exciting. Perhaps once it’s launched things will change dramatically.  Take the plunge to find out!  


Grandma, Grandpa, What Was it Like When You Had Facebook?

The best and most globally concious social network has yet to arrive

By the time you’re asked that question it will be almost too embarrassing to answer.

Just imagine having someone from the future describe a social network to you. Would they even call it that? Do you hear anyone calling their car an auto mobile, probably not.

The social networks of our era will be pitiful archaic predecessors of something greater in the future. Of course, that is an easy claim to make about any type of technology that exists today. However, the real reason is not because there will be a better Twitter or Facebook, the real reason is because there won’t be. Such things as superficial, or as digitally limited, as social networks will become obsolete in the way we know them today.

Just look at how a few people are using these inventions already. Constitutions are written, laws are passed, and revolutions are fired up with the help of social media. As trivial as they may seem to us, they will become the prime historic examples of ‘people ahead of their time’ for future generations.

Most people don’t log in to Facebook to change something in the physical world, it’s a virtual hangout. All that will change. The social networks of the future will connect seamlessly with the physical world. We’ve already seen examples of this with augmented reality, where a user can get information about a place or item by simply pointing a device at it. The users of tomorrow’s social networks will be much more attuned to the real world. Not only because information will be available wherever they go but because they will feel a social responsibility to act within the real world.

This is because people will feel much less physically dependent and geographically inclined to each other, promoting international interaction like never before. What will drive this movement is the need to solve global issues through innovative processes which require coöperation from everyone. Additionally, as applications and devices become more mobile so will we. After all, it is our need to be on the move that drives technology to move with us. The next changes will occur when we decide what to do with such efficient mobility and all that extra time, and that’ll be when the digital and physical divide is closed forever.

As we build upon our virtual world we are actually coming closer to an augmented version of the real world. Augmented with greater knowledge, empathy, and global citizens.

So in a not so distant future when you’re asked, “What Was it Like When You Had Facebook?”, you’ll laugh and tell stories of embarrassing pictures you were tagged in and how you stalked the girl you liked back in college. And your grandchildren, who just interacted with students in Malaysia, will look at you with quizzical faces and think how trivial and limited such things were back then.

‘Silicon Roundabout’: The New Silicon Valley in London

Gathering startups in one place

You’ve probably heard about Silicon Valley in California, but have you heard about ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in London? Far from being an official geographical-area, what started as a joke on Twitter has quickly spread to reference a place where a small but rapidly growing company known as TechHub is changing the startup industry. We are no joke, although we love to laugh!

TechHub is a new and exciting space in London for tech companies not just based nearby, but around the world. It’s a community space reflecting the vibrancy and global outlook of the technology scene.

What Makes Us Different?

While it is a place for tech entrepreneurs to touch down, work, plug their laptops in and use the fast wifi, what really differentiates us is the mostly product-oriented tech community. We’re focused predominantly on product-oriented tech companies as there are other spaces already catering for agencies, consultants and media companies.

Additionally, TechHub is affordable and accessible, with a great environment to bring together the right people in one place – the people who really do want to change the world through their businesses and believe the power of technology can change lives. We’re right on ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in the Old Street area of London where there is an existing cluster of tech start-ups. London is the first space, but will be swiftly followed by others in the TechHub network and from around the world, so wherever you are, you can connect @TechHub. Make sure to follow us for insider news on our exclusive events and to connect with entrepreneurs and tech leaders. You might just find your next winning idea with us!

Follow Us For Great Opportunities!

So whether you’re interested in the tech or web industry, or are a budding entrepreneur or established tech leader, we hope you will join us in changing the world through technology.

If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas you’d like to share with us please email me: miguel.techhub@gmail.com and don’t forget to check our website: http://www.techhub.com/

Follow us on Twitter @TechHub@evarley, @mikebutcher & @cosmoholotech

See you @TechHub!

A Hammer for Screws: The Transformation of the Internet Fortress and What Comes Next

People define technology

The Internet is a tool that has evolved to accommodate many purposes. When it was first designed, in the 60’s and 70’s, it was meant to keep the United States safe in case of a nuclear attack. As all lines of communication could be lost in such event, the Internet was designed to be resilient and stand as the final line of communication between different government entities. The Cold War was a major influence in its creation but by no means would it define the Internet as we know it today.

The design philosophy of the Internet has evolved considerably from its very first days.  In the 1988 article, “The Design Philosophy of the DARPA Internet Protocols”, by David Clark, we are introduced to the philosophy of its creators. Think of the internet as a fortress. The architects of this fortress had the following goals in mind, listed by priority:

1. Internet communication must continue despite loss of networks or gateways.

2. Internet must support multiple types of communications service.

3. Internet must accommodate a variety of networks.

4. Internet must permit distributed management of its resources.

5. Internet must be cost effective.

6. Internet must permit host attachment with a low level of effort.

7. Resources used must be accountable.

The defining aspect of this fortress is obviously military in nature, with survivability as its priority. Accountability is considered the last goal, as you can see from the list. In case of an attack the fortress will provide the defense the U.S needs in order to continue operating.

Then something happens. The Cold War draws to an end and all of a sudden the architects and builders are left with this humongous technological fortress that was never really used for its intended purpose. Many of these original creators could not have foreseen the magnitude their abandoned fortress would have on future generations. Luckily, a few big-minded people did.

The Internet entered the commercial/private sector and all of a sudden the list of goals was turned upside down. No longer was survivability a major concern. Accountability was the number one goal. The once mighty military fortress was stripped down of its secret and defensive barriers and re-modeled to look more like a welcoming shop, now open for business.

Now how did this all happen and what can we learn from this for what comes next? First of all, we need to realize one thing. War is also a business. Some of the inventions that result from wars are later on applied to the private sector. Just look at plastic, nuclear energy, and Jeeps after World War II. Many prominent scholars have argued that from conflicts and threats of war comes progress, and this is true in a sense. However, in no way should we advocate this as a required precursor for progress.

There is one thing that we cannot change. From conflict, big and small, arises the need to create a solution. Sharing video online was a difficult and lengthy process, hello YouTube. People wanted to know what their friends were up to with a click of a button, hello Facebook. These two examples demonstrate solutions to these conflicts. However, their creators could not have envisioned the plus 1 million uses that would evolve from their original creations. The YouTube and Facebook of today is very different from the one on day one.

So what can we learn from this? We will never be able to envision all the uses of our creations. Everything we do now can be highly scrutinized later, but don’t take that as a bad thing! See it as an opportunity to improve your product or service for others. Don’t restrict yourself! What you see and use as a hammer can be someone else’s screwdriver. That is the internet and what comes next.

(The list used in this post is the ownership of David Clark. Everything else written is my own work)

The Future of the Book: Beyond Kindle and E-books

The future of the e-book

Remember those pop-up books you used to play with when you were younger? You would turn the page and all of a sudden a scene would pop up. Perhaps a house would appear and you would be able to peer inside by sliding away window coverings or maybe it was a treasure chest where you could open the lid.

This article describes the future of the book, more precisely the future of the e-book. It describes ways in which we will interact with our books and go beyond simply reading text. This group of people is presenting an up and coming tool which will make it easy for anyone to self-publish one of these amazing interactive books. Check out the article and video on the link below!


The Individual Before the State: Human Security as The First Priority of Global Order

The World of Me, You, and Us

Due to the fast changing nature of our global order the concerns of the individual must come before those of the state. However, the state remains the most powerful player in this relationship.

In a way I advocate that many concerns of the state will increasingly evolve to become those of its individuals, thus, by addressing the issues of many you address the issues of one, and vice versa. This is not to say that all issues can be addressed in this way but there are many that can. With more region-focused and intrastate conflicts this is becoming more and more of a reality.

While most literature will describe this as a blurring of concerns and compound an already conflated conception I prefer to refer to these changes as the evolution of the concepts in which the defining aspects of security have grown to include important components of the human structure.

Another major point of contention is the analysis of state security threats as equal to human security threats. If the state is under threat then, generally, its citizens will also be threatened.

However, most literature stops here and does not address the reverse implications of the argument. If humans are under threat does that generally mean the state will also be threatened?

No, proven by many non-traditional issues of human security threats that have not affected their states in any significant way. (AIDS, Malaria, malnourishment, poverty)

The best way to start improving the power of the individual is by promoting human security at the grass-roots level, concentrating on successful practical applications from around the world, using technology to connect those pursuing similar interests, and using a cosmopolitan approach rooted in legalism. (Investigating how international law is an extension of cosmopolitan ideals)

Increasingly,  people (NGO’s, international organizations, companies) will carry more responsibility for our new global order.

The ‘Cosmoholotech’ Approach

Using technology to advance the ideals of cosmopolitanism

There has never been a better time to pursue the ideals of cosmopolitanism. More than any other society before us we have the tools today to make positive impacts on a global scale and at an unprecedented pace. Not everyone has had this chance, we do.

My message is not one of utopia, world government, or world peace. Changing the conceptualizations of these terms, which many pessimists have over-killed, is not enough to defend the ideals that we care about . We must create new meanings of who and what is a cosmopolitan person/society and how technology is used as an asset towards that goal.

Therefore, we must go past theorizing and into practical application. Now that we are entering what many have dubbed the ‘Connected Age’ it is more important than ever that we interact and cooperate on projects that benefit much more than just our immediate surroundings. You might think that your field is too specialized or that your work is menial, but nothing is farther from the truth.

In our new age it isn’t only about what you do on your day-to-day job or the established standards and expectations. Much of the literature in this area of business and technology describes the best people as those which can bridge gaps, meaning connecting seemingly unrelated things and building new applications. Discovering something we didn’t even know we were missing. Not something we need to live, but certainly something we need to live better.

Technology is the new link to cosmopolitanism. It’s one of the most effective tools which can defend its ideals and prove its practicality. However, technology by itself is useless. Human nature drives technology, and in turn, technology responds to human nature. Therefore, to address technological innovation and progress is not enough.

Before we attempt to drive technology we must ask ourselves what is driving us and what is the holistic approach we will use to make technology improve global order in the 21st Century? This is what I like to call the ‘Cosmoholotech’ approach. Joining the terms cosmos, holos, and technology.

-Miguel A. Garcia Elizondo